March 11, 2005

Churchwell named VCH chief of staff

Featured Image

Kevin Churchwell, M.D.

Churchwell named VCH chief of staff

Kevin Churchwell, M.D., has been named the first chief of staff/associate medical director for the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt. Churchwell, who currently directs the pediatric critical care unit (PCCU) at Children's Hospital, will begin work in his new administrative position immediately.

Children's Hospital administrators say the move is a result of rapid growth, not just in admissions to the hospital, but of staff and faculty as well.

“Dr. Churchwell has clinical and analytical leadership skills that make a very effective and productive bridge between the administration of the hospital and the medical staff,” said Jim Shmerling, CEO of Children's Hospital. “Already he has three or four projects to work on to improve admissions, discharges and patient flow. He's the perfect candidate to offer leadership that will help improve the way we serve our patients and their families.”

Shmerling said having a chief of staff will better align the administrative structure of VCH with the structure of Vanderbilt University Hospital.

"I am thrilled and excited that Kevin has accepted these dual positions,” said Arnold Strauss, M.D., medical director of Children's Hospital. “In these roles, Dr. Churchwell will provide a daily presence and interaction with medical and nursing staff to improve patient care, patient flow and cohesiveness. Dr. Churchwell's outstanding clinical skills and reputation are essential to accomplishing the goals of these positions."

John Brock, M.D., surgeon in chief of VCH, agrees.

“Not only does Kevin have an intimate grasp of the workings of Children’s Hospital but he understands the importance of collaboration across service lines.”

Strauss said there has been a need to develop a formalized medical staff structure. Within that structure there would becommittees meeting on issues from quality and patient flow to protocol development and physician satisfaction. Churchwell would oversee the committees and will also be able to tackle the never-ending challenge of bed management.

“I'm a little nervous,” Churchwell said about accepting the position. “It's a tremendous opportunity for me, but also this position will be important for the development of Children's Hospital.”

Churchwell said he has already been involved in a couple of projects that will continue under his direction. The projects involve better access for outside physicians and response to patients with acute critical needs on the non-critical-care-unit floors.

“As we've found with the rapid development of the hospital, we need to work in concert with VUH. I will work with doctors Kaiser, Shmerling, Strauss and Pinson to make this successful.” Churchwell said.

As chief of staff, Churchwell will work to improve service to patients by improving patient flow and communication between departments. The role will echo that of the chief of staff for the Medical Center, said Wright Pinson, M.D., associate vice-chancellor for Clinical Affairs and chief medical officer for VUMC.

“The new Chief of Staff will help with quality of care and quality assurance within the VCH environment,” Pinson said. “Importantly, he will represent the medical staff at VCH helping to resolve credentialing inefficiencies and hospital access issues among others. He will share responsibility for executing the Clinical Enterprise strategic plan as it relates to VCH.”

Churchwell will work to build physician relations both inside VCH and between community physicians and the hospital. Churchwell says he is already working on projects having to do with improving quality of service, resolution of problems and building on teamwork within the hospital.

Churchwell will report to Shmerling and Pinson. As associate medical director, Churchwell will report to Strauss and will interface with Brock.

“I really appreciate the encouragement I received and the support given to me in the selection process,” Churchwell said.

He will have to cut back on his critical care duties, although he will continue to see patients in the unit, and he will step down as the medical director of the pediatric critical care unit (PCCU). The transition plan for medical leadership of the PCCU will be announced in the near future.